Tough Assignment for Young Warriors

The Tafel Lager Brave Warriors face a tough assignment when they take on Swaziland in an international friendly encounter at the Sam Nujoma Stadium on Wednesday night.

In Swaziland they face a rejuvenated team that has only lost one of its last five matches, while the Namibian team will include numerous Under 23 players who have been drafted in to help them prepare for upcoming international matches.

Yesterday Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti played down his side’s expectations and called on the public to understand their position.

“In terms of tomorrow night the nation needs to understand what we are trying to do with this team. I’d like to win each game that I play, but it will be more important to see if the Under 23’s can perform on this stage. If we can win the match I’ll be very happy, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on the boys, because many of them will be playing for the senior team for the first time,” he said.

He reiterated that they had just brought the youngsters in for this game and that the door had not been closed for the regular senior players.

“We brought in 15 U23 players because none of our regular players are currently active, but it does not mean that the door is closed for them. We focussed on the U23’s to help them prepare for their upcoming Olympic and African qualifying matches.”

Mannetti did not want to reveal much about the composition of his team, just saying that it would be a mixture of youth and experience.

Swaziland are currently ranked 158th in the world compared to Namibia’s 114th, but Mannetti said that they could not be underestimated.

“I saw Swaziland playing at last year’s Cosafa Cup competition, and they are a good ball playing team. They can cause problems for any opposition and in today’s football there are no more easy matches or underdogs. We have to be careful but if we apply our tactics we should have a good night. The emphasis will fall on the young players tomorrow night and I hope they will be able to follow our tactics,” he said.

Swaziland are in a rebuilding phase under coach Harris Bulunga and have built up an impressive record over the past year.

They were knocked out of the Afcon qualifiers when they lost 1-0 to Sierra Leone in their last match in Freetown on 31 May, but that was their first defeat this year. Before that they drew 1-1 at home to Sierra Leone they won 1-0 and drew 0-0 against Lesotho in two friendlies in Maseru and surprisingly beat Botswana 4-1 in a friendly in Gaborone.

At their training session at the Sam Nujoma Stadium yesterday, coach Harris Bulunga said their preparations had gone well.

“We’ve been in camp for a full week now although we had to interrupt our camp over the weekend because we had some domestic games taking place. But the boys fortunately reported back to camp without any injuries so we are geared up for the match.”

Bulunga said he did not know much about Namibia but was expecting a tough match.

“They are more or less a closed book for us because the last time I saw them play was during the Cosafa Cup last year and I haven’t seen any of their recent games. But we understand their philosophy, so we are going to try to neutralise them because we know they are playing at home and I think there will be a huge crowd supporting them, so we have to be able to counter that. We also have a strategy that I cannot reveal fully, but we are here to attack because there is nothing much at stake, so we are going to play an open game and try to go back home with a positive result,” he said.

Wednesday night’s match starts at 20h00 while tickets are available at N$40 each through Computicket at Shoprite and Checkers countrywide.

Source : The Namibian